EAO Provincials - Seoul 2019, Day 2
Seoul, Korea, 6 March 2019 -- On the second day of the EAO 2019 Provincial meeting in Seoul, all participants were offered a good chance to experience the host country. After the two morning sessions led by Fr Ivo Coelho, General Councillor for Formation (Handbook of the Salesian Rector and Interprovincial formation communities - Curatorium), in the afternoon the 25 member group headed towards two different destinations (personal choice): the larger group went to Young In (Korean Folk Village) and the smaller group reached the only DMZ in the world (Demilitarized Zone) close to the North Korean boarder. And the whole day concluded with the traditional Korean restaurant Shilla near our Kuro3Dong parish.
Since the Korean war (1950-1953) the DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone) between the North Korea (DPR Korea) and South Korea (Republic of Korea) has become a unique experience worldwide. The three hour guided visit around the DMZ helped the eight provincials to understand not only the tragedy of the Korean war and subsequent division, but also the reality of divided families on both sides of the boarder. Walking along the 3rd underground tunnel (1600m) excavated by the North and crossing 70m underground to South Korean territory they felt the painful reality of division.
Three hours in the DMZ was a good chance to meet the young generation of Korean soldiers, to walk along kilometers of the barbed wire dividing the two parts of the Korean peninsula, to see the reconnected railway from the top (North) to the bottom (South) of the country, to visit the isolated 'Unification village' within the DMZ. There were only a few other visitors on board the DMZ tour bus, mostly senior Koreans and so our group got extra translation guidance.
Direct exposure to the Korean reality was a heart touching experience on the last day before the Lenten season, a good chance to ponder, to pray for the peaceful future of Korean people in their beautiful country.